Government announces review of Modern Slavery Act

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The Home Office has announced plans to launch an independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to ensure the world-first legislation can help prevent this crime

The review, which aims to ensure that the legislation keeps in step with the crime, will be led by MPs Frank Field and Maria Miller, and Baroness Butler-Sloss.

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has led the efforts to tackle modern slavery in the construction industry, particularly when it published a critical report on the extent of the problem earlier this year.

The Home Office announcement also included the publication of a report revealing the devastating impact of modern slavery. The economic and social costs of modern slavery report estimates that it costs the UK up to £4.3bn a year.

Each instance of the crime is estimated to cost some £330,000, including the cost of support, lost earnings and law enforcement but most significantly the physical and emotional harms suffered by individuals, who are often exploited over months and sometimes years. This places each modern slavery crime as second only to homicide in terms of harm to its victims and society.

Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, said: “The Prime Minister established this country as a world leader in this fight against modern slavery through our ground-breaking laws and law enforcement approach.

“However, as this awful crime is evolving, it is our responsibility as citizens, businesses and governments to do all we can to stop exploitation. This independent review will help us identify what more we can do to tackle this terrible, global injustice by enhancing the Modern Slavery Act where necessary.

“Chairing the Business Against Slavery Forum last week, it is clear some companies are leading the way but others are falling behind. I’ve asked for this review to look at if we should strengthen our legislation to ensure businesses are taking robust action to eradicate forced labour in their supply chains.”

Legislation currently requires every business with an annual turnover of £36m and over to publish a statement on its website outlining what it is doing to prevent and tackle modern slavery in its operations and supply chain.

The review will examine what more can be done to strengthen this legislation and minimise the risk that the goods and services available in the UK are produced through forced labour and slavery.

CIOB chief executive Chris Blythe said: “We welcome a review of the Modern Slavery Act to strengthen its position as a global-leading piece of legislation and ensure that it maintains pace with new methods of exploitation.

“We would like to see an extension of the Modern Slavery Act across public procurement as this could act as a major catalyst for improved supply chain reporting and reform.

“The CIOB has been at the forefront of helping businesses adapt to the legislation and our modern slavery toolkit has been produced to help construction businesses shape their response as they tackle modern slavery.”

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